For more people, purchasing a home is the largest investment that they will make their lifetime. Lawyers study law their whole lives for a reason, because there is an incredible amount of information that you don’t know that you don’t know when it comes to the law and as if that wasn’t enough, the laws vary state by state. It is in your best interest to use an attorney who specializes in real estate to make sure you are protected and informed on your rights. It can save you lots of money down the road if anything is to happen!
In almost every real estate transaction I write the question is always the same. “Is it necessary for me to hire a real estate attorney?” The answer is both simple and complex. Every state and sometimes regions within states have differing requirements. Some states leave that as an option open to the buyer and seller while others mandate it as a necessity. Your local real estate agent should be able to advise you what the protocol is in the area in which you are buying. That is the simple answer.
The complex answer has to do with in what situation you find yourself.
- Are you an out of town buyer?
- Are you buying a property that is a short sale or bank owned?
- Are you buying a property that is part of an estate sale?
- Are you buying a commercial property?
- Are you buying a property that could potentially have some structural issues?
- Are you buying a property in a problematic area such as a flood zone or areas with adverse conditions (tornado prone, radon, toxicity levels, etc.)?
- Are you selling a property that is in some state of distress?
- Are you the heir or executor of a property whose owner is now deceased?
- Are you selling a house with a non-cooperative partner?
- Do you have that gut feeling that something could possibly go wrong based on knowledge you have about the property?
- Do you have judgments or liens in your background?
- If you answered yes to any of the above questions then hiring an attorney to guide you through the process would definitely be beneficial. If none of those apply to you and you have discussed your situation with your realtor, then you are probably fine to use your realtor’s knowledge and expertise to take you through to closing. As part of a realtor’s licensing education they are taught and tested on the real estate contracts used within the state that holds their license. Many states also require continuing education courses and/or certifications on subjects such as ethics, buyer’s agency, distressed property sales and the list goes on and on. All of these measures are in place to protect all parties, buyers, sellers as well as agents.